A healthy budget

I’ve recently gone all hard-core budgeting. I’m not sure what got into me, but it’s really fun! It’s like a challenge, and I think every semi-type A, slightly obsessive female likes a challenge. Or maybe my husband’s love of all things economic and finance-related rubbed off on me.

So, one of the things I’ve enjoyed the most sense I seriously began budgeting, is making my grocery budget/list each month. It’s weird how rewarding it is when the cash register rings up and I’m a measly $5 under budget, but  my pulse quickens because victory is all mine! Yep, it obviously doesn’t take much folks. So, I thought I would share with you some of my tricks to budgeting for a month’s worth of groceries (that are healthy too)!

The first thing I do is decide how much I will spend on groceries any given month. Then I break it down into weekly increments. It can vary depending on the time of year… of course, right now we’re lucky to sometimes get free veggies and sometimes fruits from friends and neighbors. Our monthly budget usually falls somewhere around $300-$325 (which comes to about $75 – $80 a week).

  • Meal planning. I will loosely plan meals for the week prior to grocery shopping. Often times, we will have a couple of “no meat” nights.
  • Two words: Managers Special. There’s nothing better than perusing the meat section and seeing that the humanely raised chicken is marked way down just because it will go bad in two days. Freeze it yo! Buying items that are on sale is the bees knees.
  •  Eat lots of fruits & vegetables. I feel fortunate to have a local grocery store that provides high quality produce at a reasonable price. Right now I can buy a big bag of local apples for less than $3! SCORE! We only eat meat dinners at home once or twice a week. Meat is expensive!
  •  Skip organic where you can. I highly recommend taking a look at this article.
  •  Avoid whole paycheck. If I walk into Greenlife (aka whole foods), I will spend unnecessary money. It’s just a fact. That doesn’t mean I don’t treat myself now and then, but I never go in without a list or a plan.
  •  Coupons. I don’t mean to go all old school on ya’ll, but coupons can be really amazing. I often get coupons for oikos or soy milk and sometimes even dog food. These “little” savings can really add up!
  • Staples. Keep certain staples in stock. I keep a supply of beans, potatoes, quesadilla shells, frozen vegetables and rice at all times. All these things can make a quick healthy dinner, fast.

Just to preface, I typically cook dinner four to five nights a week and we will eat “out” one or 2 nights out of the week (usually weekends). We both take our lunch most days of the week, and I keep a separate budget for “eating out” expenses. Breakfast is all at home.

Thus, my grocery list from last week: (Total $74.56)

  1. Bananas
  2. Apples
  3. Spinach (small bag)
  4. Romaine lettuce
  5. Sandwich bread
  6. Deli meat
  7. Chicken
  8. Potatoes (sweet and baking)
  9. Corn on the cob (yay summer)!
  10. Soy milk
  11. Greek + regular yogurt
  12. Pizza crust
  13. Cheese (shredded)
  14. Cheese (for sandwiches)
  15. Black beans
  16. Eggs
  17. OJ
  18. Cereal

Meal plan for 8/22 – 8/26

Dinners:

  • Monday – sandwich and salad night (I hate cooking on Mondays, so I cheat)
  • Tuesday – baked potatoes, corn, salad and mac n cheese
  • Wednesday – Quesadillas with black beans and sweet potatoes
  • Thursday – On your own night (we both had things to do after work)
  • Friday – Grilled chicken, corn, long grain rice

Lunches:

  • Ham and cheese sandwiches (for him)
  •  Salads (for her)
  • Yogurt
  •  Fruit
  •  Boiled eggs (for her – yummy!)
  •  Cut up carrots and peppers (from mother in law’s garden!) 

Breakfasts:

  • Cereal
  • Yogurt
  • Bagels

And there you have it. The thrill of budget and meal planning (just try to contain your excitement). 

I  know people often complain about how expensive it is to eat healthfully… but I honestly think it’s possible to do it. We definitely have to redefine our focus a little bit and realize that although eating all organic might be ideal, perhaps it isn’t totally feasible. But eating a salad at home as opposed to a happy meal is definitely a better choice. But I’ve also never been in that bad of a situation. It’s so sad to me that some people feel they don’t have access to healthy food. Eating well is a right, not a privilege. Our society, mostly due to the food industry as a whole, has the wrong idea. But I think there is also  a HUGE push to make good food more accessible and that’s the team I want to be on!

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